Hebrides - Innse Gall

The Hebrides is a collection of islands located off the North West coast of Scotland. The one I know best is the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, where I lived for about fourteen years. Whenever possible, I come back to visit here with my family, always armed with canvasses and paints. The natural light, unpredictable weather and rugged, unspoilt landscape provide a never-ending source of changing moods for painting. In my work I try to portray the feelings that are invoked when watching the peace of a golden, hanging moon illuminating a silent black ocean, or the excitement of a threatening sky and powerful, raging sea.

But it's not just the landscape that inspires me, the people and the island way of life easily lends itself to being creative. The painting 'Kayak' came about after a day kayaking with Katie and Chris Denehy, who run the Hostel and kayaking business on Barra. We chanced upon a school of basking sharks who were completely nonplussed by our presence, until one of the sharks turned and swam directly towards me, submerging at the very last moment, the tip of it's tail bumping the side of my kayak. A truly unforgettable experience.

The two paintings 'Maol Dòmhnaich' and 'Croft house in Nask' were painted one particularly miserable day while I was stuck inside with my four sons in Kay Gilbert's cosy self-catering cottage. The view out of the window was so dismal, I added extra colour to put a cheerful slant on these drab scenes, even having to draw Maol Dòmhnaich as much from memory as from the occasional glimpses I caught of it through the mist. Kay also runs a kiting business on the island, which prompted me to paint 'Kites'.

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